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Tue Jan 8, 2013, 01:37 PM

How Can Chuck Hagel Have "Opposed" the Iraq War When He Voted For It?


By David Weigel | Posted Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, at 4:47 PM ET

The smartest critique of my colleague Fred Kaplan's column today has been a nit-pick. Kaplan wrote that Chuck Hagel "opposed the Iraq War." But sharp-eyed readers -- anyone who's awake, really -- know that Hagel voted for S.R. 46 in 2002, and thereby gave the Bush administration the authority to go to war. If you want to say that Hillary Clinton supported the war, then so did Chuck Hagel.

Hagel's argument would be that he supported the war with reservations. The initial war resolution, S.R. 45, authorized military action without any reference to international support. The compromise resolution -- a compromise led by nervous pro-war Democrats -- predicated any military action on U.N. resolutions against Iraq. It was a distinction with only a small difference, but Hagel's pre-war denunciations referred to the first bill, not the second. "It might have been better for our vote to have been delayed until after the elections," said Hagel, "as it was in 1990." (Hagel wasn't in the Senate in 1990, and he was on the ballot in 2002, but he had no credible opponent.) When he spoke in favor of the compromise, he caveat-ed it all to hell with worries.

"Some of my colleagues and some American analysts now speak authoritatively of Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds in Iraq, and how Iraq can be a test case for democracy in the Arab world," he said. "How many of us really know and understand Iraq, its country, history, people, and role in the Arab world? I approach the issue of a post-Saddam Iraq and the future of democracy and stability in the Middle East with more caution, realism, and humility." The war would drag on, he said, "we must understand that we have not put Iraq behind us. This is just the beginning."

The vote was a cop-out, but the speech was cautious. Hagel didn't sound anything like the pro-war diehards. To pick an example at random: Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, who explained his vote for war via an extended fable about killing snakes.

You know, when I discovered these Copperheads, I didn't call my wife Shirley for advice, like I do on most things. I didn't go before the city council. I didn't yell for help from my neighbors. I just took a hoe and knocked them in the head and killed them. Dead as a doorknob. I guess you could call it a unilateral action. Or preemptive. Perhaps if you had been watching me you could have even called it bellicose and reactive.


So, yeah, Hagel was more moderate than that. It remains strange that the people who voted for the war and against the surge -- Hagel, Clinton, Kerry, Biden -- rose the highest in government.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/01/07/how_can_chuck_hagel_have_opposed_the_iraq_war_when_he_voted_for_it.html

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Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
Reply How Can Chuck Hagel Have "Opposed" the Iraq War When He Voted For It? (Original post)
DonViejo Jan 2013 OP
jenmito Jan 2013 #1
Bluenorthwest Jan 2013 #3
Inuca Jan 2013 #4
Bluenorthwest Jan 2013 #8
karynnj Jan 2013 #11
jenmito Jan 2013 #14
davidpdx Jan 2013 #9
jenmito Jan 2013 #12
WeekendWarrior Jan 2013 #13
blm Jan 2013 #2
frazzled Jan 2013 #15
blm Jan 2013 #16
pnwmom Jan 2013 #5
Cha Jan 2013 #6
TeamPooka Jan 2013 #7
Recursion Jan 2013 #10

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 01:45 PM

1. He opposed it LATER-as did Biden, Kerry, and others. Hillary NEVER opposed it to this day. Hagel

also wanted to start getting out of Afghanistan as soon as we got bin Laden.

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Response to jenmito (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:05 PM

3. After he used his vote to authorize shock and awe and death and the winds of opinion changed

he offered up rhetoric. It's fine to use others as a shield of defense for Hagel, but to try to pawn him off as an opponent of that war or as being anti war is just an insult to reality.
Here are your own words about one person who voted for that war. Now you support another for Sec of fucking Defense, the Republican one. Just to be clear about it. You:
"How could someone (Hillary) NOT know that's a vote to allow Bush to go to war??? Talk about poor judgement (IF she really didn't know what it was for, but wanted to look "strong") Her answer for why she voted for the war doesn't fly and will ruin her if she's our nominee."
http://upload.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x4335675

It is interesting that you accept Hagel's reasons and excuses for his vote. Not hers. I accept neither.
Here's another one. Today, you are supporting a Republican who did what you castigated Clinton for doing. You were right when you castigated, not when you suddenly find an IWR vote to be of no concern in a Sec of fucking Defense:Here's you:
"Why is she playing the fear card? I wish Obama would point out that Hillary voted to divert attention AWAY from finding bin Laden to go into Iraq!"
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x5605840
And now you want some Republican who voted to divert attention AWAY from finding bin Laden to go into Iraq?!?!?!?!?!?!

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 05:17 PM

4. He did not offer only rhetoric

He destroyed his political career because of he things ge tried to do and the votes he took.

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Response to Inuca (Reply #4)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 06:04 PM

8. His votes were for both wars. He voted YES on Iraq Resolution.

. When it mattered, he voted to let the bombs drop. Considering he voted for a war based on faked up 'intelligence' against a country that did not attack us and he's about to be Sec of Defense, I fail to see where his career got destroyed. Seems more like he was one of the folks who made one of the most horrible misjudgements in our history and now he's going to be in charge of Defense. We should all have our careers ruined like that.
What votes did he take impress you so much? Got any specifics. We both know he voted Yes Indeed Mr Bush on Shock and Awe For 9-11 Doers. What else?

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #8)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:12 AM

11. Hewas one of the first Republicans to side with Democrats

in putting in a resolution to set a deadline (or timeline) to get out in the defense bill. This effort started with Kerry/Feingold that even Obama and Clinton voted against. (In fact, Senator Warner, who voted against it, treated the issue better than they by engaging Kerry in a 20 minute or so debate in the Senate on it - where he praised the resolution's design and seriousness but said it was not yet the time. He did accept on voice vote the portion of K/F that called for a regional summit into the defense bill.) Six months later, ALMOST all Democrats were behind this type of proposal.

Bush, himself, finally set a time table and that time table allowed Obama's exit without as much partisan pushback.

This period was important. Had Hagel, Lugar, and Warner taken McCain's point of view - remember McCain said we could be in Iraq for 100 years - a comment he walked back. It took guts for these Senators in the Republican party to oppose the neo cons.

It is silly to look just at a vote 5 months before Bush chose to go to war as the ONLY metric of who was for the Bush policies. In fact, in 2004, Kerry annoyed Bush by regularly quoting Lugar's and Hagel's criticisms of the way we went to war.

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Response to karynnj (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 09:51 PM

14. Thanks for putting that weak argument against Hagel to rest with facts. n/t

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 08:49 AM

9. You know I really like and respect you as a poster

We've responded back and forth a few times (nothing memorable). But that post just plain disappoints me. Let me tell you why:

1) I think dredging up someone's posting history is just plain bad faith. Sure people do it on here, but that doesn't make it right.

2) The position, whether you like it or not is a high office and should be treated as such. The person is the "Secretary of Defense". If someone put that word in when talking about Barack Obama and the office he holds people here would riot.

3) (unlike the two above that address your tone, this addresses the substance) People do make mistakes and they do change their minds. There are some issues that I had a few years back (I won't say which ones) that I'd get lambasted on DU for and then hung out to dry. While it wasn't on the issue of war and certainly wasn't life or death, I can see know that I was wrong.

There were many people who were on the wrong side of the issue when it happened. The tactics being used by the other side to get people to capitulate were terrible.

As to the nomination of Hagel, I support him. I don't think President Obama would put someone in office who would not support his decisions. All cabinet members work at the pleasure of the President of the United States.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 09:30 PM

12. Hillary never turned against the Iraq war. Hagel did, as did Kerry and Biden. Others here proved

your other points wrong so I don't have to. Hagel was very early in turning against the Iraq war. The Republican chicken-hawks and neocons don't support him now which makes me support him even more.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 09:41 PM

13. He offered up rhetoric, but it was unpopular rhetoric with his party.

Give him some credit for standing up to the Bushidiots.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 01:47 PM

2. Actually, Kerry was against the DECISION to invade while Clinton and Biden supported it

and that should be of note to those who got attention claiming that a Yes on IWR was equal to supporting war. It wasn't. A Yes vote on Biden-Lugar (supported at the time by Howard Dean) version of IWR would have had the exact same outcome as the Yes vote on the IWR that passed.

Kerry- Feingold withdrawal plan for Iraq in summer of 2006 had only 13 supporters in Senate.

Biden came to oppose the war publicly soon after a trip to Iraq in fall of 2006. Hagel came around after that, too.

As far as I know, Clinton never publicly opposed the DECISION to invade.

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Response to blm (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:39 PM

15. Again, that is not really correct

As I've argued before, Kerry did not oppose the decision to invade; he only wanted there to be an international coalition of substance, and he only asked that it be delayed for 30 days to do so. When push came to shove, however, he explicitly ENDORSED the invasion. This occurred at the Council on Foreign Relations on March 18, 2003, after Bush announced the invasion, and one day before it occurred. After regretting the Bush administration's clumsy, inept diplomacy, however, he went on to say:

That said, Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, truly the personification of evil. He has launched two wars of aggression against his neighbors, perpetrated environmental disaster, purposefully destabilized an entire region of the world, murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens, flouted the will of the United Nations and the world in acquiring weapons of mass destruction, conspired to assassinate the former President of the United States, and provided harbor and support to terrorists bent on destroying us and our friends.

From that perspective, regardless of the Administration's mishandling of so much of this situation, no President can defer the national security decisions of this country to the United Nations or any other multilateral institution or individual country.

Even having botched the diplomacy, it is the duty of any President, in the final analysis, to defend this nation and dispel the security threats - threats both immediate and longer term - against it.

Saddam Hussein has brought military action upon himself by refusing for twelve years to comply with the mandates of the United Nations. The brave and capable men and women of our armed forces and those who are with us will quickly , I know, remove him once and for all as a threat to his neighbors, to the world, and to his own people, and I support their doing so.


My strong personal preference would have been for the Administration - like the Administration of George Bush, Sr. -- to have given diplomacy more time, more commitment, a real chance of success. In my estimation, giving the world thirty additional days for additional real multilateral coalition building - a real summit, not a five hour flyby with most of the world's powers excluded -- would have been prudent and no impediment to our military situation, an assessment with which our top military brass apparently agree. Unfortunately, that is an option that has been disregarded by President Bush. In the colloquial, we are where we are.

http://www.cfr.org/world/senator-john-kerrys-statement-response-presidents-speech-nation/p5722


BLM, there is no way, after reading this, that you can say that this was a Karl-Rove-induced lie implanted in my brain. Read it again. Kerry says, despite everything, that Bush must not defer the national security decisions of the country to the UN, that it is his duty to "defend" the nation and dispel the security threats against it. Note that he expressly says "immediate and longer term" threats--a statement that to me at the time was shocking, because prior to the Bush doctrine, only immediate threats were justifiable cause for war, not longer term threats.

Finally, read that one sentence again: "The brave and capable men and women of our armed forces ... will quickly ... remove (Saddam Hussein) once and for all ... and I support their doing so.

Karl Rove didn't say that; I didn't say that; Chuck Hagel didn't even say that. John Kerry said it. Plain as day, as recorded in print. So no, don't keep saying that Kerry always opposed the war. He just wanted it to be done differently, and 30 days later. That doesn't mean he's a bad man or unqualified to be Secretary of State. But until we can accept that our leaders sometimes make errors, that they say things we don't always agree with ... we will be doing ourselves an injustice. I rest my case, for once and for all, and will not respond to any protestations.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:40 AM

16. Yes, I can. Kerry always supported regime change in Iraq, just like Kucinich did in the 90s.

He was supporting the US military mission on a decision that was already made in that response as any statesman would, but, he made clear that he would NEVER have made that decision and in many speeches before and after the invasion he sided CLEARLY with the weapon inspectors.

You can cherry pick Dean and Kucinich on Iraq and find remarks and appearances of conflicting positions, too. The bottom line is that Kerry sided with weapon inspectors and was against the DECISION to invade.

You choose to hang your hat on ONE statement in stead of the collective - the one statement that was made when most any statesmen and leader would be supportive of the MISSION that the US military was embarking upon in the name of their country. You don't seem to get the import of supporting the troops on their mission even when you don't agree with the decision. Kerry was running to BE commander-in-chief. You had the luxury of saying whatever you damn well please against Bush AND against the troops. Kerry did not.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 05:18 PM

5. Many people, including Democrats, voted for the Iraq war resolution

only because the alternative was worse.

The Rethugs were about to bring a majority into Congress -- and they would have happily given Bush a blank check -- but Bush wanted a bipartisan resolution. The bipartisan resolution signed by Hagel, Clinton, and others attempted to put restrictions on Bush's actions rather than give him a blank check. Under the resolution, he wasn't supposed to go to war unless he found WMD.

As it turned out, he went to war against Iraq a few months later and IGNORED the restrictions. And he knew it wouldn't matter because he controlled Congress and they weren't about to impeach him for that.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 05:38 PM

6. Easy question.. Hagel voted for the War on Iraq.. then "turned against it"

The Proxy War Against Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon Is Really About Obama

Does anyone seriously think the former Nebraska senator will be dictating policy on, say, Israel or Iran, any more than Leon Panetta did? In nominating Hagel on Monday, despite plenty of attacks during the trial-balloon phase, Obama was sending the message that he wants his own man to stir things up at Defense, even if that man is a Republican. Otherwise he’d name a technocrat and avoid the messy Senate battle. The president put his own prerogatives front and center.


Part of this battle is inescapably cultural. Most Senate Republicans don’t much like Hagel because he bucked the party leadership, turned against the Iraq War and, once out of office, campaigned for Democrat Bob Kerrey in his home state. Indeed, Sen. Lindsey Graham called his selection an “in your face” nomination.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/08/the-proxy-war-against-chuck-hagel-at-the-pentagon-is-really-about-obama.html

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 06:01 PM

7. this is a dense stupid argument if you have any hindsight ability to understand recent events

like Hagel's conversion mid-war based on what he was seeing happen and how the war was being run.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 09:42 AM

10. "Opposing Iraq" in this context means "demanding Phase IV planning"

Which the Pentagon bafflingly refused to ever do

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